This week we begin the series of celebrations known as "the holidays"- Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. And if you are in education, or just so inclined, you can throw in Veteran's Day, Kwanzaa, Hanukah, and New Year's Day. They used to be distinct days-- months apart. Now they blend together in a whirlwind of shopping and buying and cooking and cleaning. The stores start putting all the Halloween candy and costumes in place before the school supplies are even gone. And if you look around the corner, the Christmas ornaments are already dangling from their hooks! Poor Thanksgiving usually gets a few new items in the house wares, crafts, and card aisles, but not its own aisle. Maybe we just aren’t that thankful.
Halloween is not my favorite holiday. So many things can go wrong on Halloween. But many schools and organizations still support it. Candy makers certainly endorse it. “Trick or treat” is not the same anymore, so maybe the whole thing will eventually evolve into an entirely new kind of celebration. Traditions die hard and it takes time for new ones to become accepted. Perhaps in another decade we won’t let our children dress up and beg for candy. Who knows?
I actually looked at Christmas ornaments when I went to WalMart on Saturday. I need to go to Craighead’s, Hallmark, and Hobby Lobby soon. I usually buy each of my grandchildren a new ornament. I like to buy them something unique to commemorate the year and I know the good ones will be gone quickly. See, I’m succumbing to the plan endorsed and enforced by retailers- shop early and frantically! What you want may be gone before you get it.
“IT”. That’s always the magic word during the holidays. I heard it used on Saturday during a toy report. Everyone wants to know what the “IT” toy, gadget, appliance, gift will be for this year. IT is the one everyone wants. IT is the one that costs a fortune and requires three days in line to acquire. IT is the one that will make your children or grandchildren or spouse or sweetheart love and revere you forever. IT is the one we will all forget next year because it will be replaced by the new IT we must have.
It will be interesting to see how holiday shopping fares in the current economy. We’re all hurting. Despite the fact that gasoline prices are coming down, we still have winter heating costs to endure and many people are facing unemployment. If your normal budget barely stretches from paycheck to paycheck it is difficult to get into a buying frenzy that will make retailers happy. We will be lucky to buy enough to make our children happy. And is that really what we need- more things, another IT -to make us all happy? I suspect that a sense of peace, a vision of hope, a promise that “this too shall pass” is what we really need.
I feel that we are on the brink of something monumental. With the coming election our lives are going to change in ways we never imagined. We’ve already witnessed events in the past year that a decade ago would have seemed impossible. Maybe it’s time to give more thought to Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s time to not only give the holiday its own aisle, but its due. Maybe it’s time to count our blessings and pray, not shop.